Charles Paris returns again, in a fringe show at the Edinburgh Festival, with another nubile girl to provoke him, his accommodating wife to console him and a gory murder to challenge him.
Edinburgh and the Festival are both background and foreground with Charles flitting between a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a ‘mixed-media’ satire, a late-night revue and his own one-man show on Thomas Hood. Then a fading pop star is murdered, there’s a bomb scare in Holyrood Palace and someone makes a suicide leap from the top of the Rock….
This novel has aged better than most, or maybe it just seems so to me - I was there in 1974, too; fortunately a student, not a middle-aged roué ( of either gender ) like Charles Paris. The story is full of twists and turns, sometimes even cliffhanging - plenty of high spots in our volcanic city.
Charles of the books is much less cuddly than his Radio 4 avatar as played by Bill Nighy, less witty and more promiscuous, but of course of a previous generation - he'd be 87 by now, assuming his inexplicable taste for a certain nasty blended cooking whisky - wiser drinkers only touch GOOD malts - hadn't destroyed liver, brain and libido.
However, this book did evoke for me the atmosphere and magic of the big E in August. Things change in Edinburgh but the essentials remain.
There is the hideous sexism of the time, less pronounced than in other novels, perhaps because of the eclectic festival situation, and we're spared denigration of LGBT people.
Brett does a reasonable job on Scots accents. A generic music hall voice wouldn't have done for diverse characters - genteel Edinburgh isn't West Coast rural, or Glasgow (genteel or not), or angry young man.